This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
- Forever traumatized by Squid Game.
- We’re doing that “next James Bond” thing again…
- Three magical duets.
- The celebrity quotes I can’t stop thinking about.
I wondered if anything sounded like more of an interminable drag than the two-hour-and-43-minute running time of the new James Bond film No Time to Die, “the most emotional 007 movie ever.” (What fun!)
But then, before the movie even opened in theaters, we were gifted something even more annoying than the people who feel the need to tell you “actually, a martini should never be shaken and always stirred” whenever someone quotes the famous drink order. The insufferable race for who will be the next Bond is already starting again.
It was 2015 when Daniel Craig famously said he’d “rather slash my wrists” than play James Bond again after his fourth go in Spectre, meaning that, thanks to his bait-and-switch by agreeing to star in No Time to Die, it’s been six years of this damn conversation.
It’s all kicking back into high gear thanks to my new nemesis, epically-named 007 producer Barbara Broccoli, who, I recently learned, descends from the Broccolis of Carerra—the literal inventors of the broccoli vegetable, who then named it after themselves. (Why are we not talking about that?!)
This icon of the vegetable community told BBC Radio 4 that the hunt for Craig’s replacement will officially begin next year. The internet, however, thought, “Why wait?” and has already started going on and on about it. Just as they have, with little rest, for the last six years.
It’s always the same serious answers. Did you know that a lot of people think Tom Hiddleston or Idris Elba should do it? There’s bitching that Clive Owen never did it. Then the people who think they’re funny by suggesting random-ass Brits. (“The next 007 should be… Prue from Great British Bake-Off lololol!”) There are those who, rightfully, say, “It’s time that James Bond be inclusive!” and then ruin the whole gesture by suggesting, like, a dog. Every gay on social media posts a photo of Melissa McCarthy in Spy.
There are those jokes, but the real reason why this is all so irritating is that so many people take it so seriously. There are betting odds for it. People make the case for their picks as if they’re writing a manifesto for a newly-formed government.
People still treat what should seem like very logical replacements—the suave and sexy Idris Elba or Regé-Jean Page—as provocative. (I remember once an editor who rarely weighed in on entertainment news proclaimed, “We should publish a piece saying Idris Elba should be Bond,” like we were taking the next great stand for democracy.) And it’s because the purists who feel that the character should look as described in the novels and as he’s been on screen ever since are in such large numbers and so vocal—which is to say, vaguely racist—that such casting becomes a legitimate concern.
Part of the guessing game is fun, sure. Fantasy casting always is. But it’s also exhausting and, as we’ve seen, can perpetuate the systemic failings of Hollywood and society.
Plus, what are we, if not kidding ourselves? Every time there’s a new famous Brit who is handsome, suddenly he’s the frontrunner to be the next Bond. Current “contenders” like Bridgerton’s Page and his co-star Jonathan Bailey were not even on the radar when then-It Boys Damian Lewis and Tom Hardy were being talked about as favorites.
It’s all so silly. So, sure, we’ll just respond to the question of who should be the next Bond like every other gay does:
The Tony Awards were on Sunday, which I realize is about a decade in news cycles. But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them. Coming right after the MTV VMAs and the Emmy Awards, there was a bit of award-show fatigue. But I watched them anyway, partly because when you’re a gay man, there’s always a lingering fear that if you don’t watch them, GLAAD will send Patti LuPone to your house to personally berate you.
The way they were presented boggled the mind.
They took place across four hours, and you had to watch across two different streaming services—or one streaming service and then regular broadcast TV, or one streaming service and then pay for a more expensive tier of the streaming service to see the rest—a gesture of inaccessibility that flies directly in the face of the idea that the Tony broadcast is meant to bring Broadway theater to the masses who can’t make it to New York.
And it was less an advertisement to attract tourists and patrons back to Broadway now that the shows are reopening, something the industry sorely needs, than it was a nostalgic celebration. The songs were lovely. Jennifer Holliday performed “And I Am Telling You…” and it blew the rafters off the Winter Garden Theater with such force you could hear the explosion in L.A. (No full video exists online. How come, Chief Willoughby?)
But the messiness and frustration aside, there was a roughly 12-ish minute stretch near the end that may be some of the most magical television I’ve watched this year. Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel reunited to perform “For Good” from Wicked. They cried. I wept. Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal did their big duet, “What You Own,” from Rent. And then the finale: vocal powerhouses Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell sang “Wheels of a Dream” from Ragtime.
In reaction shots, people from the audience were in tears and shaking, they were so moved. By the time the duo belted the song’s bridge, the hairs on my arm, which had long been standing at attention, leapt off my body and through the ceiling, on their way to the moon. Especially after so long without live musical theater, the emotion of it all was so much, so visceral. The performance was ebullient. It really struck me.
Here’s a video of it so that you, too, can join me in watching it 45 times a day.
I couldn’t decide what was my favorite thing that a celebrity said this week, so I chose two, which means together at last in the same thought are Ellen Pompeo and T-Pain.
Pompeo made headlines this week after revealing on her podcast that she got in a little tiff with Denzel Washington when he directed an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. He got mad at her for giving a direction herself, and she replied, “Listen, motherfucker, this is my show. This is my set. Who are you telling?”
Opinions are all over the place on this one. Is she a fierce boss who asserted her worth on the set she’s reigned over for 16 years? Did she disrespect the greatest actor of our generation? I kind of lean toward the former, mostly because I am in awe of a person who has Denzel Washington in their presence and without blinking can say, “Listen, motherfucker…” That’s confidence. I peed myself a little just reading about it.
Then there’s my other favorite quote of the week, which is, of course, T-Pain describing why he doesn’t like guacamole in the Grub Street column.
This exchange is from 2020, but, thanks to journalist Evan Ross Katz’s Instagram, it just came into my life this week, when I needed it most.
Maid: The next Netflix drama that could/should be an awards contender. (Fri. on Netflix)
The Guilty: Ninety minutes of Jake Gyllenhaal is always a “watch,” never a “skip.” (Fri. on Netflix)
Ghosts: Wise-cracking ghosts haunt a couple’s new mansion. Sure! (Thurs. on CBS)
Titane: A woman has sex with a car. It won Cannes. Do with that information what you will. (Fri. in theaters)
Diana: The Musical: Just wait for Spencer. And The Crown. (Fri. on Netflix)
The Many Saints of Newark: Our critic called The Sopranos prequel “dry macaroni with no gravy.” (Fri. in theaters and on HBO Max)